BIYA AND THE INTERNATIONALISATION OF DIVIDE AND RULE COLONIAL TACTICS
President Paul Biya, who has been at the helm of the French Province of la Republique du Cameroun for three and half decades running, is an expert in French colonial administration. Having been in strategic positions of power and influence, Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republique and Prime Minister under President Ahmadou Ahidjo for almost two decades, before taking over as President in 1982, this has made him an expert in the politics of divide and rule and the effective use of the carrot and whip. He has become a demi god to those who adore him in his kingdom to be consulted by others anxious for absolute power in the CEMAC region.
The current crisis between the Southern Cameroons and la Republique du Cameroun, which for lack of inside knowledge is trivialised and misrepresented by some as an Anglophone problem, has forced the dictator to internationalise his politics of divide and rule. Before we come to understand how he has gone about this, it is pertinent we understand how this is not an Anglophone Crisis but the escalation of political conflict between the Southern Cameroons and la Republique du Cameroun which has been ongoing for almost six decades.
Briefly stated, the Southern Cameroons or British Southern Cameroons, is the former UN Trust territory under UK Administration while la Republique du Cameroun is the former UN Trust territory of French Cameroun under French Administration. Separated by international boundary defined by treaty, each evolved distinctly in the political, historical, cultural, legal and economic philosophy and core values of its Trustee power; attained self- government separately and termination of trusteeship and independence as successor states of their respective colonial territories at different times and under different circumstances. Each has a different world view, concept of the state, the common weal and international personality.
But to the misfortune of the inhabitants of Southern Cameroons, a UN-envisioned federal union code named, FEDERAL UNITED CAMEROON REPUBLIC made up of two states of equal status, i.e. Southern Cameroons, and la Republique du Cameroun, as defined in UNGA Resolution 1608 of April, 21, 1961 was never implemented. This failure by the UN to respect and ensure the implementation of this land mark Resolution in conformity with Art. 102 of UN Charter to safe guard the interest of the partners in the union facilitated the annexation of the weaker partner, Southern Cameroons, by la Republique du Cameroun. This is the root of the Southern Cameroons vs la Republique du Cameroun political conflict. It is a conflict between two peoples and two nations and not an internal conflict of a UN member nation. This political conflict of aggression and annexation is deeply rooted in botched decolonisation process in Southern Cameroons which urgently demands UN mediation and arbitration to pre-empt escalation into open war and genocide provoked by la Republique du Cameroun excessive use of brute force in the annexed and occupied territory of Southern Cameroons.
What then is divide and rule? It is an imperialistic instrument la Republique rigorously applies to fragment Southern Cameroons territory into small weak pockets and units for purpose of perpetual control for its political grandeur and economic prestige. For easy control there is inbuilt animosity, suspicion and distrust between the tribes, ethnic groups, religions and regions of the colonised territory. With this cohesion from within against the real enemy becomes a difficult task.
For la Republique du Cameroun to consolidate the annexation and further the assimilation agenda, as from 1972 after the fake referendum of “OUI” and “YES”, the Southern Cameroons was by decree split into North West and South West provinces of la Republique territory. Like a cloak to hide the truth, this is called national unity and national integration. To make the balkanisation of Southern Cameroons real socially and culturally, even the road that linked the territory from north to south was abandoned. Consequently, to travel from the north to the south and vice versa, you have to traverse two provinces of la Republique du Cameroun territory. While many roads that were tarred by Southern Cameroons government have become impassable due to lack of maintenance, some large administrative units of Southern Cameroons, for example, Akwaya, with large populations remain inaccessible to this day.
While all state, political and economic institutions and infrastructures of the defunct Southern Cameroons state were dismantled and others transferred to la Republique du Cameroun territory, the seed of institutionalised hatred and psychological war was sworn between the North West and South West provinces and rigorously fanned from Yaoundé. The woes and under development of each is blamed on the other. Derogatory slangs, against the other became fashionable. Worshipping and glorifying the Yaoundé monster seen as the protector and hope of redemption of each victim province against the other, was qualification for individuals to pick the crumbs. This gave birth to the spirit of sell out and treachery among those clamouring to be granted the status of House Negro to be in the good books of Yaoundé for the limited privileges, not rights, reserved for the lucky few Southern Cameroonians. This of course was only for the survival of the individual and never each province. Thus the colonial policy of divide, weaken, manipulate one against the other and control, which started at provincial and divisional levels, descended to the individual level and survival instinct became the issue. All these at the detriment of collective interest.
With the one party system of CNU, imposed in 1966, by which the Political Bureau, under Ahmadou Ahidjo, and later Paul Biya, selected the required members of the National Assembly for the electorate to confirm, the lucky parliamentarians who owed everything to the President and father of the nation, looked up to him to maintain their seats in parliament. As parliamentarians owed their positions to the president so was it with ministers and civil servants. With this the president became a god providing even the necessary oxygen for the lucky few from Southern Cameroons and the lucky few owed nothing to the masses. In the provinces and divisions, the masses were ruled as a conquered people by Francophone proconsuls who owe their positions and allegiance to the President. The Southern Cameroons top civil servants, ministers and parliamentarians on the other hand, for purposes of promotion and/or future favourable recommendations, fight to be in the good books of the colonial proconsuls. Such tantamount to collusion against the masses, the identity and destiny of Southern Cameroons. With the Traditional Rulers reduced to auxiliaries of the Yaoundé colonial administration, the dynamic rule of the Fon Achirimbis and Chief Stephon Nyentis, who defiled British colonial manipulation and defended the will of the people, became a thing of the past. The struggle for survival of the educated, political, economic elite of Southern Cameroons under the Yaoundé oppressive ruling class has been, to say the least, disastrous. The masses hungry for the truth, their legal and political rights and life in freedom and dignity had no one to speak for them. Nothing could be more pathetic.
This retarded and stunted the struggle for de-annexation which became most self-evident after 1972. With this the likes of Fon Gorji Dinka, Albert W. Mukong who stood uncompromisingly challenging the imperial rule of Yaoundé in Southern Cameroons, was seen as the frustrated chants and rhetoric of a few enemies of the state. With this in built animosity between North West and South West even after the birth of liberation movements such as Ambazonia, SCNC, SCYL, SCAPO and some land mark achievements, such as the Banjul Ruling on Communication 266/2003 of 2009, approved by the AU Summit of Sirte, Libya in 2009 calling for Constructive Dialogue under the Good Offices of the African Commission, President Paul Biya still treating a people’s struggle for freedom and independence as a minority meaningless cry, refused to respect the ruling for there was no force threatening his rule in annexed and occupied Southern Cameroons.
As every struggle passes through stages, trials, failures, small victories, declines and rise, so has it been with the Southern Cameroons struggle for de-annexation and sovereign state restoration.
Without doubt when the lawyers strike started last Oct. 2016 followed by the teachers’ sit-in strike leading to the formation of the Consortium which brought in other Southern Cameroons trade unions, Yaoundé still applied its diabolic tactic of divide and rule. Knowing that these were trade unions with no political agenda, armed to the teeth with its policy of divide and rule, on the one hand and the carrot and whip on the other, Yaoundé which had rejected the AU- approved Banjul Constructive Dialogue under the Good Offices of the African Commission thanks to the Ruling on Communication 266/2003, accepted dialogue with the Consortium leaders. But unknown to the Consortium leaders, this was to be dialogue à la Camerounais, that is the dialogue of master armed to the teeth vs the servant without rights or dialogue of the lion and healthy lamb anxious for freedom but fit for the lion’s pepper soup. Such could never yield the desired results. Consciously, thanks to the political education given by the liberation movements over the years, the population could not be cowed by arrests, brutality and killings by the re-enforced occupation forces. Is it not said that no one pursued by an enemy runs and bye pass his father’s compound?
With firm determination, the people, hungry and thirsty for the freedom and dignity they have lost, took over by storm when they declared “this is no longer the lawyers’ and teachers’ strike, it is the peoples’ strike.” Anyone who minimised the revolutionary content and the invulnerability of people power inherent in this statement, was grossly mistaken. And certainly they were many Thomases.
Convinced that Yaoundé has effectively transformed Southern Cameroons into its footstool, the Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary dismissively said, “Anglophones are an insignificant minority.” And to concur the almighty Minister of Justice, Laurent Esso in Oct. 2016 in colonial arrogance quipped, “When the lawyers are hungry, they will go back to court.” And in Jan. 2017 he again said, “When the Consortium will collapse, they will come begging us.” But Atanga Nji, as a House Negro had to take the mockery to its limit. Ridiculing the Common law and affirming that annexation and assimilation has sealed the fate of Southern Cameroonians he said, “Common law has no place in Cameroun.” To close the chapter, Prof. Fame Ndongo, the Minister of Higher Education, in peacock style mockingly poses the question, “ Vous allez faites quoi?”
The youths, the great victims of annexation, assimilation, exploitation, rape, brutalisation and murder, under the valiant dynamic Mancho Bibixy emerged as if dropped from celestial space with what is now known as the “Coffin Revolution”, and another with a giant Catapult and the revolution, like dry season wild fire swept across and overnight a bridge was built from Bamenda to Buea ending the Yaoundé colonial North West –South West animosity and bitter hatred, suspicion and treachery for self-survival. This bridge of deconstruction of Yaoundé colonial rule of Southern Cameroons eloquently demonstrated itself at two SDF Rallies under the Chairmanship of Ni John Fru Ndi. The first was in Bamenda and the second in Buea. All were heavily attended and in each case, the Yaoundé proconsul at the head of each province did everything imaginable to block the rally from holding. In Buea for example, troops blocked SDF Senators and MPs at the Buea Parliamentary Flat which had been given a facelift for hours. SDF Senators and MPs from la Republique du Cameroun who came to participate at the rallies witnessed the powerlessness of the so-called people’s representative under the heavy weight of Yaoundé colonial rule in Southern Cameroons and the determined will of the people to end it.
While SDF Chairman and his team came to drive home their message of federation as a means to solve the Southern Cameroons, Southern Cameroonians emboldened by the revolutionary fervour of freedom via de-annexation and restoration of Southern Cameroons sovereign statehood, saw the SDF Rallies as opportunity to tell Fru Ndi, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”
In Bamenda, the heavy crowd told Fru Ndi and his Francophone Senators, MPs, and guests, that if the rally was to discuss the Southern Cameroons problem, it could only be discussed in English. So no French at that rally. Though heavily infiltrated by armed troops, the courage and nonchalance with which people spoke and booed whenever anyone said anything in praise of the Yaoundé status quo was loud and clear. But whenever someone said something positive, condemned the repressive policy of the Yaoundé regime, the heavens were brought down with loud and prolonged applauds.
In Buea, the call for singing of the national anthem was rejected with emphatic “NO! NO!! NO!!!” that only the Southern Cameroons national anthem could be sung on Southern Cameroons soil. All explanations from Fru Ndi justifying how to solve the Southern Cameroons problem through federation were rejected. The posters and placards in the air were uncompromising, “Southern Cameroons Independence NOW!”
This deconstruction of Yaoundé colonial fragmented Southern Cameroons was cemented with ghost town, ghost country and enhanced by Yaoundé’s ban imposed on the SCNC and Consortium and the shutdown of the internet by the annexationist colonial Yaoundé regime which respected the inherited colonial boundary defined by the Anglo-French treaty of 1931. From here on two power forces stood out, one in defence of the identity of Southern Cameroons and the other defending annexation and colonisation.
With the birth of the Southern Cameroons Ambazonia Consortium United Front, (SCACUF), made up of the liberation movements committed to restoration of the sovereign statehood of Southern Cameroons, the people had the strong voice defending their sovereign will to listen to. North West –South West was buried. This was battle number one Yaoundé lost in spite of all the colonial intrigues, the reign of terror and the numerous hired House Negros the regime employed to perpetuate the colonial divide.
After the colossal nose-dive results President Biya got from sponsored agents, including Francophone religious authorities, to arm twist the Anglo- fools, Southern Cameroonians, to call off the ghost towns and ghost country and end shut down of schools and courts, Yaoundé turned to attack Southern Cameroonians in the diaspora. The blame syndrome descended on them and they were accused of every imaginary evil. While the likes of Senators Peter Mafany Musonge and Chief Tabe Tando fanned the embers of North West vs South West divide and pushed it to the brinks of xenophobic rhetoric threatening ethnic cleansing to please their Yaoundé mentors, the regime’s authorities and media, launched a full psychological war fare and criminalised all Southern Cameroonians without exception. To diabolise Diaspora Southern Cameroonians, the more as those sponsoring extremism and terrorism at home, some who ventured to come on visit were repatriated at Douala airport while the unfortunate ones were kidnapped from Douala airport straight to Kondengui without the knowledge of family members and friends.
This new approach in the application of the colonial policy and tactics of divide and rule and fragmentation for perpetual subjugation by the Yaoundé regime was aimed at cutting the supply line of energy to cripple the resistance and force Southern Cameroonians to beg for forgiveness. The manner in which the North West /South West divide crumbled in the hands of the creators and promoters was incredible and left them gasping for speech. That is victory number two.
The social media projection of the atrocities visited on Southern Cameroonians by the rogue regime of President Biya pushed the regime to its wits end. Here the youths have our red feather. To fight and panel beat its dented image, it decided to send out delegations to explain things out to Cameroonians and foreign governments and the UN. In South Africa, Belgium, Canada and UK Southern Cameroonians seized the momentum to remind the delegations that there was only one solution to the problem, namely, la Republique du Cameroun to release unconditionally all Southern Cameroonians held in captivity in Yaoundé, total withdrawal of all proconsuls, occupation forces to their borders inherited at independence on Jan. 1, 1960 and recognition of the right of Southern Cameroonians to restore their sovereign statehood.
Thus the sponsored delegations abroad witnessed worse humiliation from determined Southern Cameroonians fighting for their freedom. While Laurent Esso will testify to this, Dr. Simon Munzu and other House Negros will have to admit that the revolution for restoration of Southern Cameroons sovereign statehood has reunited Southern Cameroonians. The Biya missions abroad have had a boomerang-effect on the regime and they have to leak their wounds.
As every colonisation has its expiration date buried within its bowels so is it with every annexation. The ticking clock for political disaster is on. No force on earth can stop God’s vengeance when the cup of evil against an innocent people is full. This reminds me of the submission to President Biya after our arbitrary arrest in 2002 at an SCNC Meeting in Muyuka and taken to Buea. In a submission at the request of the Delegate for National Security, President Biya was asked if these atrocities against Southern Cameroonians were the reward for our legendary hospitality in sheltering the many Francophones who escaped for safety and security from French repression and during their bush war with the Marquesas. He was told clearly that the so-called unification brought Southern Cameroons to play a balancing rule and maintain the unity of his country. You bite the finger that feeds you at your great risk.
Unless heavenly reason prevails, President Biya and la Republique du Cameroun are matching headstrong towards the cliff. The Southern Cameroonian cry for freedom, justice and independence which is legitimate and anchored on international law and under scored by divine law, places them on the pedestal of the rise to glory. But President Biya’s fight to perpetrate annexation, colonial occupation and assimilation, indeed neo-apartheid, is an act of building an embankment with mud and sand against a ferocious torrent. Annexation and neo-apartheid can only last for a season for when the anger of the people rises against, as it is in Southern Cameroons, it must crumble like a park of cards.
By Dr. NFOR, N. NFOR, SCNC Chairman, 14/08/2017